In early 2010, I lost about fifty pounds (twenty-two kilograms) for a weight loss competition. I didn’t start the competition with extra weight to lose.
Near the end, I was eating only a can of tuna or an apple a day (or nothing). I wrecked my stomach, replacing depleted nutrients with fistfuls of diet, colon, and water pills.
I didn’t even drink anything for the last two days. The idea was to rid my body of as much water weight as possible.
I spent the morning of the final weigh-in sweating out all my remaining hydration in a sauna. After that, I passed out and hit my head in the locker room. I wasn’t too worried though; by that point, I was fainting almost whenever I stood up.
My experience of not eating began with bursts of an intense and mysterious sense of determination. These leveled out to cycles of dull-to-excruciating pain. I daydreamed about food constantly, vividly picturing and yearning for whatever I could imagine.
By the end, I felt nothing at all—no determination, pain, or anything else. There was only an eerie, quiet pleasantness that seemed to separate me from my body and surroundings. Always just shy of unconscious, I drifted slowly through space and time feeling detached from just about everything.
Though I probably seemed quite tranquil and carefree near the end, everyone who knew me was more than a little concerned.
I wasn’t getting high at all back then, in early 2010.
By May of that year, I’d gained back more weight than I’d lost. I’d also reached an absolute standstill in terms of motivation.
Up way past midnight every night, I found myself staring blankly at empty pages on screens. I’d decided I was going to be a writer, but couldn’t seem to bring myself to launch. I’d somehow become convinced that something of an identity crisis had simply gone on too long, and that it would now be too late for me to try to choose a life to run with.
I ended up writing a lot about not writing—filling documents with thoughts like the following (this was recorded in May, 2010):
“Honestly, I feel like I’ve given up hope. I mean, I’ve never actually been able to do what I decide to do. I keep failing and getting older and more numb. It’s like I know I can’t just say, ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!!’ and mean it. I feel incapable of deciding to become what I want to be, so I’ve sort of lost hope. I don’t believe I can do what I want to now because I’ve never been able to before. So what should I do? How?”
Looking back now, five years later, I see my burden in 2010 as really a needless struggle against an inescapable truth—the truth being I no longer had the vast future I’d once both taken so for granted and taken so much shelter in.
But go around any circle enough times and its lack of edges starts to get quite undeniable.
I wrote this exactly three years later—in May, 2013 (while really high):
“I was so depressed by the end of 2010 that I went online to some random Q&A site and asked if anyone there could give any real reasons for someone like me to not take his own life.
“I wonder how differently the details of that time would have had to have played out for there to have been a radically different outcome.
“But thinking that way probably only adds layers of unnecessary complications like adding opposite terms to both sides of an equation.
“I’d been mostly clean from drugs since 2003, but I felt like I had no more control over my own life than something grown to be slaughtered.
“I’m glad the way I saw myself and my place in the world changed.”
2010 felt like a slow bounce, back and forth, between zanily crippling anxiety and dull depression.
But having been so concerned about not being creative seems somewhat selfish to me now. Looking back, I think the true tragedy might have been the damage I did to some of my closest relationships.
Tomorrow: what happened when I added a weed addiction to the mix of my unstable mindset in 2010.
How do feelings about your current state, your abilities, and your future (hopeful or hopeless) connect to your addictions?
Have you ever felt unable to move forward in life? Did your perspective change? How?
Honestly, putting this story together to share has made it clear to me just how wrong (or incomplete) my hopeless conclusions back in 2010 were. I now see myself moving forward as a person. I’m more naturally motivated to pursue my dreams than ever.
I guess what I’m saying is: No matter how you feel or what your circumstances are, nothing has to stay the way it is right now.
Even if you feel depressed, hopeless, anxious, or just stuck in any way, the life you’ve always wanted is still available to you.
It’s not too late.
After writing today’s chapter, I got high and wrote:
“In 2010, I was thinking and acting sort of like a purposefully naïve child, trying to fix all sorts of meanings and…
“Really, life is funny. It just kind of happens.
“Now, years later, my tendency seems to be to grin about it all and sigh. I imagine there’s a twinkle in my eye as I do.
“Life really feels like a treasure…”